Hamming it up in the park

The Iola Amateur Radio Club hosted its annual Field Day Saturday at Riverside Park. It's a chance for ham radio enthusiasts to connect with others and practice skills for responding to an emergency.

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Local News

June 24, 2024 - 1:16 PM

Gale Jeffers with the Iola Amateur Radio Club tunes a radio in preparation for Saturday’s annual Field Day at Riverside Park. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Ham radio enthusiasts gathered at Riverside Park Saturday for their annual Field Day. 

It’s an opportunity for ham radio operators to practice skills for responding to an emergency and make contact with stations across the country.

Gale Jeffers, with the Iola Amateur Radio Club, arrived early to set up equipment.

“This is the last party line,” he explained as he assembled an antenna to connect to a radio.

Ham radio volunteers provide communications for government agencies, disaster relief organizations, public service events, and during emergencies or disasters. Radio operators are trained in disaster preparedness and communication technology. 

Jeffers volunteered to help when an F5 tornado struck Joplin, Mo., in 2011, “but by the time my turn came up, they already had enough technicians.”

Jeffers was licensed to operate as a technician at the time, one of three levels of operators. Operators must pass a test to be licensed, and the different levels allow transmitting on different bands. The other levels are “general” and “amateur extra.” 

“People think ham radio is just using Morse code, but you can also use different interfaces that allow computers to talk to each other,” he said.

Jeffers offered a list of activities that can be done using amateur radio:

• Talk around the world without the internet or cell phone. 

• Create a network of ham radio friends around the world.

• Talk with astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

• Learn Morse code and send messages in code.

• Become a weather spotter and help the community prepare for weather events. 

• Support recovery efforts in emergencies. 

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